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Daoism and Confucianism

1. Do you see any contradiction between the Daoist ideal of gracefully accepting death, suggested by the Daodejing, and the Daoist search for long life and immortality? Can the two goals be reconciled? Can you give 2 examples from TV, film and from family members and friends?

2. Consider your own "home culture." If Confucianism became an influence, how would its rules be expressed in everyday language and activity? Reflect on the idea of Western vs. Eastern conflict of "possessions."

3. Imagine an American city transformed by Confucianism. What would the schools be like? How would life on a gig-city street or in a subway be different? How might family life be different?

4. Daoist and Confucian values have shaped the arts of China. Ultimately the two are seen to be complimentary, with Confucianism dominating the social realm and Daoism informing ones private life. Are these really separate entities or do they blend seamlessly?

5. The Confucian virtue of life attends to propriety and ritual. Think of all the ways human beings have ritualized the social intercourse of daily life. Actually it may be more difficult to find a mode of social interaction that is not ritualized in some way. Examine the simple rituals of greeting one another. Isolate the components of intent, word, and gesture. When does the ritual work and when does it not? Then investigate something more complicated, like the rituals of dating. Explore the value of clearly defined rituals in this area versus a more Daoist approach of freedom and spontaneity. Which do you prefer and why? If the previous 'either/or' question bothers you, then you may already be thinking with a Chinese-like mind. If so, try combining the two approached in a yin/yang way.

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Daoism and Confucianism

I'll formulate thoughts/discussion/ideas below each question, just to keep things orderly and smooth.

1. Do you see any contradiction between the Daoist ideal of gracefully accepting death, suggested by the Daodejing, and the Daoist search for long life and immortality? Can the two goals be reconciled? Can you give 2 examples from TV, film and from family members and friends?

Initially, it seems rather obvious that there is a contradiction, doesn't it? Obviously, if you accept death, that to us Westerners might signify accepting defeat, or trading in a portion of life when it could potentially be fought for instead. However, clearly that's not the case if the question is being asked. The point of many Eastern philosophies, include Daoism, is that by embracing seeming "opposites," you actually maximize the potential for either one. And that is essentially "freeing" yourself and "freeing" those aspects of life to their max. Look at, say, films like "The Bucket List." Once the main characters acknowledge that they will die, they prioritize life experiences and actually obtain them - whereas, if they had been in denial of death, they probably would not have been inspired to seize those opportunities, and therefore missed them. I don't want to answer the entire question for you, so I'll let you come up with a second example from your personal life, maybe, but this should more than help understand the basis and direction of the question.

2. Consider your own "home culture." If Confucianism became an influence, how would its rules be expressed in everyday language and activity? Reflect on the idea of ...

Solution Summary

Contradiction between the Daoist ideal of gracefully accepting death and Daoist search for long life and immortality is examined. Whether the two goals can be reconciled is determined.

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